In the midst of a successful indoor season, Princeton Women’s Track and Field is showing promise of capturing the 2019 Ivy League Indoor Track and Field title.
"This is our best indoor season so far in 4 years — last week’s meet left us with 5 girls in the top 10 all time 800m rankings on top of the many we already have, leading the all time record books in the 400m, 500m, 1000m, and hurdles,” said senior mid-distance runner Jackie Berardo. “We are fully capable and ready to seize [the Heps title] for the first year since I’ve been here.”
Last weekend, Princeton Women’s Track and Field took third among eight teams at the Sykes and Sabock Challenge Cup at Penn State. They fell narrowly behind Penn State and Cornell University, falling 14.5 and 2.5 points short, respectively.
The Tigers had several noteworthy performances, demonstrating tremendous depth across the roster. One significant performance was the outstanding 4x400m race. With a time of 3:45.76, juniors Heide Baron and Ashley Willingham, freshman Isabella Hilditch, and senior Carly Bonnet easily won the race.
"We went to Penn State with one specific goal: to qualify for the fast section at Heps (by getting a top-4 time in the Ivy League) and we surpassed it! The time we ran last weekend puts us at number 2, and we ran faster in that relay than we have the whole season by a full two seconds,” Baron commented on the race.
A huge strength of the team is the depth of the distance and middle-distance squad. Women’s Cross Country took 21st in the NCAA championships, and is transitioning well into the track season. Last weekend, senior Madison Offstein won the mile (4:50.38), while shattering her personal best by nearly three seconds.
Berardo, who claimed a victory in the 800m last weekend and is a repeat Ivy League scorer, spoke about her teammates’ numerous strengths: "Anna Jurew, a senior veteran 800m and 1000m runner is coming off a 3rd place indoor finish in the 1k and approaching the 1k school record. Freshman Gillian Wagner, senior Alie Fordyce, and sophomore Sophie Cantine have run top 20 caliber marks in the mile: each sub 4:45 - just incredible. Senior Allie Klimkiewicz recently PRd in the 3000m and beat out the cross country champion Andrea Masterson and sophomore Katie DiFrancesco has been approaching the 200m and 400m school records - and most exciting is the prospect of bringing a Distance Medley Relay to nationals - something the seniors have dreamed about for years.”
This coming weekend, the team will disperse, with some of the distance roster headed to the Valentine Invitational in Boston, Massachusetts and most of the team competing in the Fasttrack National Invitational in Staten Island, New York.
“This weekend is a huge weekend for the team - it’s the tuneup meet before the championship in which everyone is shooting to PR and secure favoring heat assignments come the championships,” said Berardo.
Some of the Tiger women will be competing at home in the Princeton Invitational during the following weekend (February 16th), but many will be tapering in anticipation of the Heps championship.
With the impending Ivy League championship, the team is now in the tapering phase of the season and their training. The team is concentrated on staying healthy and injury free.
“The team has been maniacally focused on being competitive — rather than just being consistent. Practices emphasize being able to change speeds dramatically in order to shift and compete with the women next to you. For field events - the focus has been on being consistent and building strength,” said Berardo.
The Ivy Heps championship meet is February 23rd-24th. The Tigers’ biggest competition is Harvard and Penn. Given the team’s depth, a win is certainly within reach.
Baron is confident that her team can take the Heps title: “It's going to be a tough fight when Heps rolls around so it's very important that we stay focused and keep in mind the huge potential that our team has.”